I think that everyone underestimated Sony in its entry to the console market before the Playstation hit. But oh how we were all wrong. Looking back at the mid 90’s when the Playstation was released, I remember the fanfare. The kids at school talking about the absolutely mediocre Kileak: The Blood like it was the second coming of Jesus (Happy Easter all) and the lines at Playstation demo stations in retail stores pointed to something special. Of course for the most part Nintendo kept its foot in the door by putting out some stellar releases for its systems in 1995 and beyond. But for the most part it was all about the new kid on the block. And Sony knew it. All of the advertising for the Playstation painted a picture of a company that knew it was its war to lose. The 90’s attitude that characterised the 16-bit era was replaced with a cool, edgy and confident campaign in the same vain as Sony’s market-leading products, the Walkman and the Trinitron.
Sony was a company used to winning.
Do Not Underestimate the CD Power of the Playstation, The Ultimate CD Games system…The Ultimate Games, Sony brashly claimed in its pamphlet. But I don’t even think Sony were ready for the phenomenon that the Playstation would become.
Sony became synonymous with gaming over its reign with both the Playstation and its successor. Brochures like the one below drove people the the new brand, driven by both Sony’s reputation as one of the world’s most reliable electronics brands, and its focus on the technological ‘wonders’ of its new system. I’ve spoken before about how I was taken aback by Sony’s crazy new controller , but for the most part I was drawn to what Sony was bringing to the market. It wasn’t a simple case of showing the 4-symbols now synonymous with the Playstation. Sony had to build that trust, build an image of a reputable video game company and most of all, overthrow Nintendo and Sega as the king of the console hill.
And it was people like me that, and I hate to spoil the story, put Sony at the top. Sony’s ‘mature’ new console hit at exactly the right time for me – a young lad entering his teenage years who desperately wanted to grow up. For Sony the ‘cutting edge’ market was ripe for the picking, with the games market entering a new stage of maturity, particularly with games aimed at a young-adult market. DOOM doesn’t know it, but it is probably a big factor in Sony’s success, opening up the mature gap in the market for Sony to drive its Playstation right into. And drive it did.
Of course Sony’s dominance is in no small part due to amazing support by both second and third-party developers. But in a serendipitous combination of market demands and Sony’s predisposition to marketing its products as technical masterpieces, the Playstation found its home in the hearts and minds of a the gaming population, shipping (according a wikipedia) a total of 102.49 million units throughout its life. And its the loyal amongst these people that Sony will be hoping to drive its success in the next generation. Given I’ve kept this brochure until now, I think we can reliably say I will be contributing to that success.